The Kapaia Swinging Bridge, also known as the Kapaia Suspension Bridge, is a historic footbridge located in a scenic and peaceful valley in Lihue, Kauai. A vestige of Hawaii’s bygone sugar plantation era, the bridge is a wonderful reminder of the people who lived and worked in the area.
The bridge, built in 1948, served the people of Kapaia Valley until it was closed due to maintenance issues in 2006. In 2007, a non-profit association was formed to restore the bridge, and it reopened in 2018, rebuilt to the original 1948 plans. Today, the bridge is cared for by the Kapaia Foundation and is registered on the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places.
In its heydey, the Kapaia Swinging Bridge served a diverse community of villagers and immigrants associated with Kauai’s sugar plantation industry. The immigrants, who had traveled to Kauai in search of better lives, hailed from many countries including China, Germany, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico and Philippines.
Though the bridge was used by villagers to traverse the Hanamaulu Stream, the bridge also helped to bridge the cultural gaps between the diverse communities. Even today, the historic Immaculate Conception Catholic Church can be found on one side of the bridge and the Buddhist Lihue Hongwanji Mission can be found on the other side.
The setting for the bridge is a green meadow surrounded by beautiful native plants and lush vegetation. The bridge traverses the normally calm and peaceful Hanamaulu Stream (also called Kapaia Stream in this area). The stream is deeper than it looks, warns a sign near the water, so it’s probably best to stay out of the water. During heavy rains, the stream can become engorged and dangerous, which likely necessitated the initial creation of the bridge.
The Kapaia Swinging Bridge is located just off Kuhio Highway in Lihue, very near the turnoff to Wailua Falls on 583. If you’ve driven on this section of Kuhio Highway before, you’ve probably noticed the green valley on the southeast side of the road.
Parking for the bridge is near the bottom of Laukini Road in a quiet mixed residential/business area. (Show respect to the local community when visiting the bridge.) On the other side of the bridge is a short dirt footpath through vegetation that leads up to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church parking lot.
Drop by the bridge along with your visit to nearby Wailua Falls or on your last day of your Kauai trip when you’re headed to the airport (also nearby). The visit will provide a fascinating glimpse into old Kauai.
Location at Google Maps
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